Just a week ago I wrote my first blog post in four months. It was about missing big cycling goals, lacking motivation to train, struggling to find the time to exercise as a result of a very busy time at work, putting on a lot of weight and generally wondering if my best days as an athlete were behind me.
All of my posts are written partly to document my cycling activities and mostly to inspire my friends and a growing readership to exercise, set big life goals and learn to never give up or let life’s roadblocks be a distraction to living a healthy, happy and meaningful life. The post I wrote last week was different. I just put it out there that I was struggling with my “cycling career”. I had become the motivator in search of motivation. The skinny manorexic climber was unexpectedly stressing out about too much weight or, more accurately, not having the weight of a climber any longer.
The reaction from friends, supporters and readers I have never meet was not what I was expecting. The biggest surprise was the response I got from none cyclists who related to the extra weight issue. A lot of people I know opened up about weight concerns and if my post helped even just person shed a few pounds to get to a healthy weight than it was worth taking the time to write that post.
The other reaction I got which surprised me was that a lot of people, especially people I know well, reached out to me and admitted being in a similar situation. In other words, I found out that what I was going through wasn’t any different than what a lot of my triple A type busy, successful friends were going through. I wasn’t any longer looking at myself as an anomaly but pretty much as the norm. It both reassured me and “ticked me off”. A lot of the people who shared their struggle with me are good friends, people I have a lot of respect for and it gave me comfort that we were all in the same boat. While that is all well from a relationship standpoint, it ticked me off that I had lost my edge over them because once we are on the bike, it’s all about winning, isn’t it? Suddenly their good gesture to reassure me awoke the competitor in me: “They are showing sign of weakness, attack!”
And attack I did. Here’s the proof (my training over the last week):
Over the last week I spoke to a lot of people about last weekend’s blog post, including someone I know very well and for whom I have great respect for and who probably knows more about athlete training than anyone in professional cycling today. He called me and said: “Remember what I’ve told you before: when the mind is good, the legs are good – when the legs are good, the mind is good.” His advice was spot on: “Ride your bike to have fun, get exercise and don’t stress out the big goals for next year.”
I felt wonderful about his advice for about two days. Yes, two days, because that’s when I got an email from my friend Rémi Duchemin, the founder and CEO of the best race for amateur cyclists in the world: the Haute Route. Rémi reminded me that although I have achieved quite a bit in my “cycling career”, riding the equivalent of a Grand Tour – doing the three weeks of the Haute Route – was still a worthwhile goal for me.
So there you have it, all in the same week I started riding my bike again to lose weight and be fit, I did it for pleasure, I was completely relaxed about it and then I get reminded that winning is fun, doing the impossible is inspiring and people out there expect me to lead by example. “They sucked me back in”, as Al Pacino would say.